set boundaries, not limitations
In my last blog post, I concluded writing about my “big three” with the topic of honesty. Although honesty will continue to be a running theme in my writing, it was important to set the groundwork in that explanatory post. The reason I decided to tackle the topic of honesty third is because accountability and valuing your time become so much easier when you’re honest with yourself. In the conclusion of Monday’s piece, I stated that I would be writing about setting boundaries today. The thing about boundaries is that it ties right back into honesty. When you’re honest with yourself, it’s easier to set the boundaries you need.
Have you ever had someone disrespect you in some way? Of course you have. We’re human beings who have all been through that experience. Heck, we’ve all disrespected other people in our lifetimes, too. It doesn’t feel good to be disrespected, and it feels even worse when you’re the one guilty of the act (at least to me).
When I first moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and writing, I got a job with an incredible family as their nanny. It was amazing to see the developmental changes a child goes through and how his reasoning, logic, and everything brain-related grows with age, alongside physical growth. Life can be hard, and no one understands that more than a child trying to assert independence. It’s funny how a lot of children resort to hitting, flailing, or temper tantrums to express frustration. It’s such an emotional reaction to an external stimulus. But that’s the thing about children: they have to be taught to be proactive. And how do you do that? Teach them about boundaries.
A lot of people think that the act of setting boundaries is mean, but it’s just the opposite: setting boundaries is incredibly healthy. I told myself back in December that I was going to set more boundaries for myself this year. That was my New Years Resolution, and I am delighted to say that it’s been going incredibly well.
Why is setting boundaries so important? Because boundaries set the expectation in a situation or relationship. It also holds those people involved accountable to themselves and to each other. When I set a personal boundary, I inform the people around me of what is acceptable or not acceptable to me, which establishes the expectation of what my reaction will be if that boundary is tested or broken. Of course there has to be explanation as to why the boundary exists so that the relationship can be as interdependent as possible. Where people get confused in life is where there are no set boundaries or expectations, which leads to all kinds of failure in communication. I can control only myself, so setting that boundary for myself allows me the accountability to dictate my actions accordingly. Should someone disrespect the boundary I’ve set for myself, there are much clearer consequences for that disrespect, which then provides a clearer framework for future interactions. Setting boundaries sets clear expectations, which only helps communication.
A lot of people also think that setting boundaries is analogous to limiting yourself. This is not true at all. The only limitation that boundaries will affect is the amount of negative influences in your life. When you set healthy boundaries for yourself, you may get some negative reactions, but keep in mind that those negative responses are usually based on someone else’s problems with him- or herself. Setting healthy boundaries doesn’t limit your growth; it expands it exponentially by allowing you to attract other healthy, positive-minded people to your life.
Self-growth and change involves cutting off a lot of dead weight. It’s hard because you can become comfortable with the things that weigh you down, but once you set firm, healthy boundaries, those vampire-like things that suck the life out of you and your potential will gladly shy away from your light. You can’t get everything you want out of your life unless you’re willing to sacrifice the comfort of familiarity. Setting boundaries feels uncomfortable because not enough people do it. I used to not set enough boundaries, hence my New Years Resolution, but I am so glad I did. I starved my ego and fed my soul, and setting healthier boundaries for myself has propelled me forward in ways I can’t even put into words.
And again, setting boundaries isn’t mean. It’s healthy, and it’s helpful. It establishes ground rules for interaction so that people don’t have to guess or tip-toe around what makes someone else happy or unhappy.
Have you ever had a time in your life where you had to set a hard boundary? I have, and it was hard. But I can honestly say it was the best thing I could have done for myself. If you have any boundaries that you know you need to put in place, do it. If you’re thinking of anyone or anything specifically, then that’s all the more reason - because you know something or someone is holding you back from your personal growth and potential. And if you set a boundary and the other person reacts negatively, that’s okay. You’re being proactive, which is healthy; the other person is being reactive, which is a sign that he may need to set some of his own boundaries in his personal life.
You can’t control how anyone will react to you. You can be respectful in setting your boundaries, and someone might still overreact. That’s okay, too, as long as you leave the door open for that person to communicate with you about why she reacted the way that she did. Or, if that overreaction has become the norm, it’s also okay to let things break. It all depends on whether or not the relationship still has value for you and your personal growth.
In order to set boundaries, you have to be honest with yourself and committed to your goals. Once you set those boundaries, you’d be amazed how much you can accomplish and how many other healthy, positive people you’ll attract to help you achieve your goals, interdependently.
I’ve said it many times before, but human beings crave connection and community. The reason so many people feel like they can’t find it is because they’re letting a lot of negative external factors weigh them down, which prevents them from being the best versions of themselves. When I think about the time I spent nannying, I learned a lot about how to communicate with a little someone whose world was so big and exciting. I saw my buddy a few weeks ago for his 5th birthday party, and it was like we were thick as thieves and nothing had changed. Had I not taught him about boundaries and taken the time to explain why they were so important, setting those expectations for behavior in our interactions, he and I would never have been able to have the special bond we have.
So for now, if you have a healthy, internally-needed boundary to set, do it! But since I promised this is only the best 4-5 minutes of your day, I'll stop here! And, of course, as always, if you have any pressing questions or if you want to discuss something further, feel free to subscribe below or reach out to me on the “contact” page. I’ve been hearing from people in other countries, and it’s so incredible. I’d love more of it. I’m here for you, and I’m also here to learn from you!! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this; I couldn’t do it without you!
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